New drilling processes demand updated equipment.
Tulsa-based Unit Corp. on Wednesday unveiled its new BOSS drilling rig, a high-tech drilling platform designed to take advantage of technological advancements and meet the needs of a drilling industry that has evolved to a focus on mile-long horizontal wells through shale and other dense rock.
The rig name stands for box-on-box self-stacking, reflecting the way the rig can quickly be torn down, moved and rebuilt at a new well site. The process can be completed in less than three days.
“The technology on rigs today is unbelievable as compared to what was offered up through the early 2000s,” Unit CEO Larry Pinkston said.
Most mid-sized and large oil and natural gas exploration and production companies have shifted their focus over the past decade to horizontal wells through tough rock layers. The horizontal wells allow companies to drill up to a dozen wells in various directions and rock layers from a single platform.
Like other modern rigs, Unit’s new equipment includes four feet-like platforms that allow it to move up to 40 feet an hour without tearing down the rig. The process allows the rig to quickly move from one well to another on the same platform.
The feet were designed by Houston-based Veristic Manufacturing.
“We are trying to find the balance of making it faster while at the same time keeping it safe,” said Matt Orlando, Veristic’s business development manager. “I think we’ve done that with this rig.”
The rig boasts a pair of 2,200 horsepower mud pumps designed to quickly and smoothly push a drill bit as it chews through the dense rock.
“There are only a few pumps like that in the United States, although they’ve been used offshore for years,” Pinkston said. “It used to be that a 1,600 horsepower mud pump was huge. We didn’t have very many 1,300 horsepower pumps just 15 years ago.”
The BOSS rig also includes a command center equipped with two joysticks and four attached monitors, giving the driller visual and real-time information on every part of the process from the top of the rig to the bottom of the well.
“This will give him better control of his rig, a better overlook of all the equipment without expecting his hands to watch over everything,” Unit rig manager Dustin Williams said.
“That is going to benefit with long-term use and maintenance.”
The base rig costs about $18 million, with winterizing equipment for cold areas pushing the price to $20 million.
After Wednesday’s demonstration, the first BOSS rig was scheduled to move to the Texas Panhandle, where it will be used by Unit’s exploration and production company.
Unit plans to build five more by September. Those rigs will be used in North Dakota, Colorado and the Gulf Coast.
“We want to demonstrate them in the field spread out in different operating areas,” Pinkston said. “That will give all of our operating areas a rig where customers can go out and look at them.”